The Line Style in Context

The Line is a modern and personal approach to retail. We bring together carefully chosen fashion, home, and beauty items and place them in context through inspiring editorial features and intimate offline shopping experiences. The thematic, seasonal, and handpicked assortments we call Selections offer another way to explore our evolving edit of things you’ll wear, use, and treasure for years to come.

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Creative Evolution:
The Protagonist Spring Collection

Protagonist Tunic 01 Bib Front Tunic – Blue

At a time when fashion often resembles a series of seasonal sprints, with each new collection distinguished by a single bold theme or one-off motif, designer Kate Wendelborn takes the steady view of a long-distance runner. She is building Protagonist with the same methodical creativity that goes into each effortless-looking piece. The label’s spring 2014 collection is a smooth progression and expansion of the range of modern tops that debuted last fall.

“We’re very interested in this idea of evolution—starting with one idea and seeing where you go with it,” says Wendelborn. “If we start one thing and make a hundred drawings starting from that same thing, we’ll see the majority of those going a particular way. It always ends up being changing the shape of one line as opposed to changing a style completely.”

She points to Shirt 02, a new style that combines details from Protagonist’s first season—the cutaway collarbone neckline of a deconstructed turtleneck, the extended cuffs of a crisp dress shirt, and a front layer borrowed from a tailored tee—into a fresh silhouette in cool blue cotton twill. “This piece ties back to working in the studio, because it’s a place where a very progressive process can occur,” explains Wendelborn. “You chip away at things.”

“We’re very interested in this idea of evolution—starting with one idea and seeing where you go with it. If we start one thing and make a hundred drawings starting from that same thing, we’ll see the majority of those going a particular way. It always ends up being changing the shape of one line as opposed to changing a style completely.”

Kate Wendelborn
Protagonist Shirt 01 Medium Body Dress Shirt - Blue Stripe

“We gravitate toward neutrals, so the collection starts out with a lot of ivories and whites, which is very light and inspiring for spring. We also really liked blue—a different color blue, not this particular cobalt that we see a lot. We didn’t want to expand the palette too much, so the tones of blue go from something pretty bright with stripes to something a bit more subdued and then to a navy. And there is a gray that is in the same family, in a way, with tones of blue. It’s not all over the place. The colors are also an evolution.”

Kate Wendelborn

This iterative approach also led her to revisit the tunic she designed for the first season. It’s a timeless piece that she took in two directions: whittling the silhouette down to a sleeveless style in ivory crepe and also mixing fabrications—blue shirting and white piqué—in a version that brings out the rounded bib-front. “It’s the same body, just a little more unique,” says Wendelborn. “And that’s what’s interesting about being able to use the same pieces and make them look completely different by changing the color, the fabric, or another aspect.”

Protagonist Shirt 02 Long Sleeve Collarbone Shirt – Blue

“The spring collection is an evolution of what we did for the first season, and it’s not overly complicated. They’re not trendy pieces.”

Kate Wendelborn

The colors have lightened up for spring while retaining the neutral hues that, when combined with unadorned shapes and pure lines, give Protagonist pieces a timeless versatility. From creamy ivories and crisp whites, the palette branches out to blue. “The tones of blue go from something pretty bright with stripes to something a bit more subdued and then to a navy. And there is a gray that is in the same family, in a way, with tones of blue.”

Protagonist - Tank 03 Deep V-Neck Tank - Ivory

“One of the new elements we added this season is a bustier, but nothing push-up or reminiscent of lingerie. It’s a strapless piece and has an understructure on the inside, so it’s quite worked, but it looks very easy. And we wanted to make it pretty…not neutral, but able to work in many different situations—with jeans and heels or jeans and flats even, and then trousers, in a more elegant situation.”

Kate Wendelborn

Looking forward, Wendelborn plans to continue expanding Protagonist into new categories, including skirts, trousers, and knitwear. The label will remain rooted in a studio-based practice of distilling complex ideas into refined silhouettes: modern essentials. “We want to be able to say something in a larger way,” she says. “And it takes years of doing collections that maybe don’t have one elaborate theme per season to say one big thing.”

Read our past interview with Kate Wendelborn of Protagonist

Creative Evolution: The Protagonist Spring Collection

Creative Evolution:
The Protagonist Spring Collection

Protagonist Tunic 01 Bib Front Tunic – Blue

At a time when fashion often resembles a series of seasonal sprints, with each new collection distinguished by a single bold theme or one-off motif, designer Kate Wendelborn takes the steady view of a long-distance runner. She is building Protagonist with the same methodical creativity that goes into each effortless-looking piece. The label’s spring 2014 collection is a smooth progression and expansion of the range of modern tops that debuted last fall.

“We’re very interested in this idea of evolution—starting with one idea and seeing where you go with it,” says Wendelborn. “If we start one thing and make a hundred drawings starting from that same thing, we’ll see the majority of those going a particular way. It always ends up being changing the shape of one line as opposed to changing a style completely.”

She points to Shirt 02, a new style that combines details from Protagonist’s first season—the cutaway collarbone neckline of a deconstructed turtleneck, the extended cuffs of a crisp dress shirt, and a front layer borrowed from a tailored tee—into a fresh silhouette in cool blue cotton twill. “This piece ties back to working in the studio, because it’s a place where a very progressive process can occur,” explains Wendelborn. “You chip away at things.”

“We’re very interested in this idea of evolution—starting with one idea and seeing where you go with it. If we start one thing and make a hundred drawings starting from that same thing, we’ll see the majority of those going a particular way. It always ends up being changing the shape of one line as opposed to changing a style completely.”

Kate Wendelborn
Protagonist Shirt 01 Medium Body Dress Shirt - Blue Stripe

“We gravitate toward neutrals, so the collection starts out with a lot of ivories and whites, which is very light and inspiring for spring. We also really liked blue—a different color blue, not this particular cobalt that we see a lot. We didn’t want to expand the palette too much, so the tones of blue go from something pretty bright with stripes to something a bit more subdued and then to a navy. And there is a gray that is in the same family, in a way, with tones of blue. It’s not all over the place. The colors are also an evolution.”

Kate Wendelborn

This iterative approach also led her to revisit the tunic she designed for the first season. It’s a timeless piece that she took in two directions: whittling the silhouette down to a sleeveless style in ivory crepe and also mixing fabrications—blue shirting and white piqué—in a version that brings out the rounded bib-front. “It’s the same body, just a little more unique,” says Wendelborn. “And that’s what’s interesting about being able to use the same pieces and make them look completely different by changing the color, the fabric, or another aspect.”

Protagonist Shirt 02 Long Sleeve Collarbone Shirt – Blue

“The spring collection is an evolution of what we did for the first season, and it’s not overly complicated. They’re not trendy pieces.”

Kate Wendelborn

The colors have lightened up for spring while retaining the neutral hues that, when combined with unadorned shapes and pure lines, give Protagonist pieces a timeless versatility. From creamy ivories and crisp whites, the palette branches out to blue. “The tones of blue go from something pretty bright with stripes to something a bit more subdued and then to a navy. And there is a gray that is in the same family, in a way, with tones of blue.”

Protagonist - Tank 03 Deep V-Neck Tank - Ivory

“One of the new elements we added this season is a bustier, but nothing push-up or reminiscent of lingerie. It’s a strapless piece and has an understructure on the inside, so it’s quite worked, but it looks very easy. And we wanted to make it pretty…not neutral, but able to work in many different situations—with jeans and heels or jeans and flats even, and then trousers, in a more elegant situation.”

Kate Wendelborn

Looking forward, Wendelborn plans to continue expanding Protagonist into new categories, including skirts, trousers, and knitwear. The label will remain rooted in a studio-based practice of distilling complex ideas into refined silhouettes: modern essentials. “We want to be able to say something in a larger way,” she says. “And it takes years of doing collections that maybe don’t have one elaborate theme per season to say one big thing.”

Read our past interview with Kate Wendelborn of Protagonist